Following the launch of the Pan-African Groundwater Program (APAGroP) in Nairobi, October 2019, AMCOW convened a series of groundwater events in association with the 20th African Water Association (AfWA) Congress in Kampala, Uganda, 24-27 February 2020. Invited by AMCOW, IGRAC was happy to contribute to these events.
The first meeting of the APAGroP Working Group was held on Saturday 22nd February, followed by the Groundwater Policy Dialogue meeting on Sunday 23rd February. Both meetings were very dynamic and productive.
APAGroP Working Group meeting consolidated and built up on momentum set up in Nairobi. It was decided to established Action Groups around a variety of groundwater-related topics. For each Action Group an Action Plan will be developed with a designated Champion to lead the group. Representatives of Action Groups will make an essential part of the APAGroP Working Group, coordinated by the AMCOW Groundwater Desk.
During the Groundwater Policy Dialogue meeting, the AMCOW Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) members were informed of background and forward-looking dimensions of the APAGroP, including a roadmap through AWW8 in Windhoek, November 2020, to the WWF9 in Dakar, March 2021. The meeting was a good opportunity to share experiences and messages between AMCOW TAC and groundwater networks, bridging the gap between science, policy and practice.
During the AfWA conference, several sessions were dedicated to groundwater, providing valuable insight in groundwater activities throughout the continent. The sessions were also very useful for discussing various topics and strengthening groundwater networks. In the session Unlocking Groundwater: from data to knowledge, organised by BGS, IGRAC took part in the session panel. IGRAC stressed that the APAGroP needs to concentrate on advocacy and coordination at the pan-African level. The programme has a limited resources and high expectations expressed by many during the conference should be managed accordingly.
According to IGRAC, the primarily roles of the programme are:
- Assisting AMCOW (by providing a proper info) in embedding groundwater properly in wide socio-economic and environmental issues (e.g. food security, climate change, energy nexus) at pan-African level
- Coordinating groundwater activities at pan-African level by acting as a focal point for exchange of information among regional organisations (e.g. SADC, IGAD, OSS), national groundwater institutions, United Nations, international organisations and donors, etc.
The short-term priority and deliverable for APAGroP would be to set-up a dedicated web-page on pan-African groundwater and develop mechanism to regularly collect and publish info on major groundwater activities throughout the continent. IGRAC will be happy to assist in dissemination of APAGroP info via IGRAC information channels.